On Feb. 7, 2023, Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer issued a historic ruling in the Pennsylvania school funding case, declaring the PA school funding system unconstitutional.
“All witnesses agree that every child can learn. It is now the obligation of the Legislature, Executive Branch, and educators, to make the constitutional promise a reality in this Commonwealth.”
The Education Law Center-PA and the Public Interest Law Center, who represent petitioners in the case, along with O’Melveny & Myers LLP, released the following joint statement:
“Today’s decision declaring Pennsylvania’s school funding system unconstitutional is a historic victory for Pennsylvania’s public school children. It will change the future for millions of families, so that children are no longer denied the education they deserve. The court recognized that our schools require adequate funding to meet our constitution’s mandate. It’s time for our state legislature to fund public schools in every corner of Pennsylvania so all students, whether or not they live in a wealthy community, can receive the quality public education guaranteed in our state constitution.”
We’ve spent many years in the fight for fair school funding, so we are thrilled about this decision. We know this is a mighty win for students across the state of PA!
It is now the responsibility of the governor and the legislature to develop and implement a plan for bringing the state’s school funding system into constitutional compliance, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to access a “comprehensive, effective, and contemporary public education” – the standard set by the court. The state’s Basic Education Funding Commission has taken on the task of developing a remedy responsive to the court ruling and has held a series of public hearings around the state to elicit testimony about this.
BACKGROUND ON THE CASE
Do you want to learn more about the history of the case? Check out key resources below that were prepared in preparation for the 2021-22 trial:
• A chronology of the case and relevant court documents can be found here.
• Watch a short video about the case.
• Read a column about the case by our executive director.
• See an interactive map of Pennsylvania school districts and their school funding “adequacy gaps.”
• Read, download, print, and distribute fliers and fact sheets about the lawsuit.
• Read about ELC’s other statewide funding advocacy on our “Fighting for Fair School Funding” page.
KEY MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY
Seven years later, the case – filed on behalf of six school districts, two statewide associations, and several parents – finally went to trial in November 2021 at the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg with Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer presiding. The trial lasted for nearly four months. Post-trial proceedings culminated in oral argument on the legal issues in the case on July 26, 2022. More than six months later, on Feb. 7, 2023, the court ruled in our favor.
Read more about the case here at FundOurSchoolsPA.org, a website devoted to the lawsuit jointly produced by the Education Law Center and our co-counsel, the Public Interest Law Center. It was updated with daily highlights each day during the trial. Read press coverage of the trial here.